b. 1960, Philippines
Sculptor Federico Pete Jimenez has been known for using found metal objects from junk shops and transforming them into interesting sculpted metal objects. Pete Jimenez’s preferred materials are industrial waste: steel, scrap metal, automobile parts, durable surfaces that are reshaped and repurposed by hammering and welding. There is a great amount of force involved in seizing the possibilities of form. Equally implied is the labour of selection. Jimenez’s materials are culled from various junkyards in the country. From an ecology that accommodates dysfunction and disposal, they enter a space predicated on the logic of conservation and display. Heir to the tradition of conceptual art, the work relies on the gesture of displacement, where the ordinary turns into an object of inquiry, encumbered with the task of summoning narratives of the world.
Faster than working with wood or fibreglass, transforming industrial materials finds affinity with quotidian tasks of repurposing and recycling. The artist lets his object retain the patina of use. Scratches, stains, and other hardened marks acknowledge it’s having existed for another function and in another guise. “I want to retain its own character, its own form,” says Jimenez.
The processes involved in the junk trade—scavenging, cannibalizing profitable parts, hauling, exchanging, and selling—are reliant on the agents’ resourcefulness and ingenuity. It is an ecology built on the restless traffic of materials. One may say that these ways of seeing and working with objects inform Jimenez’s practice of selecting readymades and building assemblages.
“I sourced all the materials from my weekly tours of junk shops,” he recounts. His garage in his house in Fern Village, in suburban Quezon City, is a trove of industrial waste, kept in the dark, where hard and indomitable carcasses of steel await the light of his touch and imagination.
The result of the artwork, however, is not a pure representation nor is it a one to one fusion of material and intended art object. It underscores the artist’s intentional exercise of using materials that do not totally enhance the spirit of what he wants to recreate in an art piece. This is quite an unacceptable norm of creativity, in the academe, making him quite unique among his peers, including those who use the same material and metamorphose it into something poetic.
“That’s how I look at found objects. When I see them in the junk shop, I instantly know what they should represent. But I retain their old and original form as if they could dictate with their own volition what they should be like in my art. I do little intervention. The true form of the metal is not violated. Industrial waste is respected. That’s my play. In that way I work spontaneously,” he says.